A Second Shot for Hannibal’s Second Take

Mads Mikkelson returns as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on NBC on February 28.  | BROOKE PALMER/ NBC

Mads Mikkelson returns as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on NBC on February 28. | BROOKE PALMER/ NBC

Hannibal” is the best new drama on network television that you’re not watching. You should be. The NBC series that revives the infamous serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter premiered last year to low ratings but the network wisely commissioned a second season. It begins on Friday, February 28.

It’s unfortunate that “The Following” on CBS — a similarly themed show — has done so well. That show, which stars Kevin Bacon, is poorly written and wretchedly acted. The amazing thing about this illogical mess is that bad as each episode is, its seems to be topped the very next week with another ridiculous story development. Bacon delivers the worst “brooding” acting of his career.

“Hannibal,” on the other hand, did everything right out of the gate. The acting by Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne as FBI criminologists and Danish actor Mads Mikkelson as Lecter is uniformly top notch. The supporting cast includes Gillian Anderson, Eddie Izzard, Raúl Esparza, Ellen Greene, and Scott Thompson, each of them bringing great work to the table.

Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Mads Mikkelson return to NBC February 28

The show was created by Bryan Fuller, who formerly developed “Heroes” as well as “Pushing Daisies.” The writing and direction, subtle and smart, qualify for the feature film league. Gory at times (well, most of the time) to be sure, “Hannibal” also has wit to spare. And the show is art directed to a T.

This is not your “Silence of the Lambs” Hannibal. Anthony Hopkins put an indelible stamp on the role and Mikkelson wisely does not try to duplicate his take on the character. There is no scenery chewing going on here. This Lecter is one who hides in the shadows; he’s evil behind the scenes. Mikkelson’s is a subtle and even sexy star-making performance.

Bravo to NBC for giving “Hannibal” a second season, even if the network continues dropping the ball as far as promotion goes. By now, the first season should be on Netflix or Hulu and, sadly, it’s not. You can check it out, though, on Blu-ray or DVD. In the snowy weeks before the second season roll-out, pick up a copy, grab a glass of your favorite Chianti, and binge-watch this delicious show.

The second season’s guest stars include Cynthia Nixon and Amanda Plummer, and rumor has it that David Bowie will also play an important role. If you like thrillers and intelligent risk-taking drama, “Hannibal” is worth your time. It’s dark, moody, sexy — and scary as shit.

HANNIBAL | NBC | Fri. at 10 p.m. | Beginning Feb. 28